Randall Cobb sent fantasy owners into cardiac arrest when he left the Packers’ third preseason game early with a shoulder injury. Those early drafters can exhale as they prepare their Week 1 lineups, as Cobb said Tuesday he expects to be ready to go against the Bears. Cobb said the shoulder, while still a little swollen, is much better than he and the team feared it could be. With fellow wide receiver Jordy Nelson out for the year with an ACL injury, Cobb will be the singular focal point of the Packers’ passing game, and could be primed for an absurdly productive season catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. With all 16 games now at his disposal, Cobb should be primed to validate those who selected him near the top of their drafts.
Adam Schefter sparked Tuesday’s news cycle with a report that Michael Vick visited the Pittsburgh Steelers. Because of a finger injury to backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, and a seeming lack of confidence in Landry Jones, the Steelers found themselves in need of help in case Ben Roethlisberger suffers some sort of injury. Vick has started nine games in his last two years in the league, with his last stint as a true starting quarterback coming with the Eagles in 2013. He spent last season with the Jets, starting three games. He completed 52.9 percent of his passes, throwing for 604 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 153 yards. It’s an intriguing fit for the Steelers, but it doesn’t mean too much: if Vick signs and ends up seeing playing time during the regular season, the Steelers are already in bad shape.
With the second batch of preseason games just around the corner, Tuesday was a relatively quiet day in the land of the League. Still, a few starting positions seemed to snap into focus and a couple of key NFC playmakers returned to practice. Here’s what you may have missed:
- Rookie Kwon Alexander is making waves in Tampa Bay; the reports out of the Bucs’ camp on Tuesday have the former LSU Tiger starting at middle linebacker come the beginning of the season. After the Bucs gave Bruce Carter a significant four-year contract in the offseason, he was expected to be guaranteed a starting position in the team’s linebacker corps. But with Lavonte Davis and Alexander now occupying two of the three starting spots in the team’s defense, Carter will be left to compete with Danny Lansanah for the final opening. Meanwhile, Alexander’s value as an IDP could be something to keep an eye on over the final three preseason games. He was a tackling machine at LSU, picking up 90 tackles (including 7.5 for a loss) and 1.5 sacks in 2014.
With one sucker punch heard ’round the internet, Todd Bowles’ first year at the helm of the Jets took a very New York-level dramatic turn. Presumed starting quarterback Geno Smith found himself on the wrong end of a punch from (now former) teammate IK Enemkpali in the team’s locker room Tuesday morning. The punch fractured Smith’s jaw, and he’s expected to miss 6-10 weeks. According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Bowles said that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is the team’s new starter, and if he plays well enough he could conceivably start the entire season.
With Tuesday came the news that Texans running back Arian Foster will likely miss a chunk of the season after suffering a groin injury in practice Monday. The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reported Tuesday that Foster’s injury will require surgery, and an IR/designated to return tag is possible. The hit to Foster’s fantasy value is sizable if he misses more than a couple of games, and he’ll be a risky pick in drafts until more is reported on the severity of the injury. Of course, this opens up a window for Houston running back Alfred Blue. If Blue is healthy when the season begins (he dealt with minor cramping problems Tuesday) he will likely be Houston’s go-to back for Week 1. Blue piled up 528 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in his rookie year, starting three games. If he gets a similar number of touches in the first few weeks, he could be a good depth option at running back until Foster returns.
It was a relatively wild day in the world of NFL. There were suspension appeals aplenty, and a broken cell phone to boot. While there are still only a couple of teams that have kick-started their training camps, we’re getting closer to the good stuff. Tomorrow, veterans from 11 different teams will report, and the news will start rolling in. For now, we have some tidbits to satiate your football fever.